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Author Topic: Who is pissed at Batfish?  (Read 3497 times)
Paul Farace
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« on: March 13, 2014, 01:19:05 AM »

I got an email the other day from someone who is canvasing submarine memorial folks and "every Oklahoma State senator.." with his long-winded photo bitch session on what he thinks are problems at Batfish. Some of the points are valid... and who doesn't have issues that someone with a chip on their shoulder could "ping on us" for?... and some are just not issues... looks like someone had a bad day when they visited and wanted to drop a brown bomb in the punch bowl.  I think Batfish might want to be aware... and contact me if they have no clue.

Paul   pfarace@att.net
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MWALLEN
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« Reply #1 on: July 05, 2014, 04:30:19 PM »

Who is pissed at the Batfish?  Well...I am for one.

I’ve thought about your question for a long time...wanting to answer then thinking about it and not responding...not really wanting to burn any bridges.  Then Darrin’s thread (about volunteers) piqued my interest in responding again.  So...here I am with a box of matches standing on the bridge...you decide.  I’ve been with the Batfish since 1998 so I think I can talk from years of experience.  People who know me I think will support my position...and I speak from a position of someone who has spent a lot of time, money and effort to preserve the submarine.  I’m not pointing the finger at one specific person or group.  I speak in behalf of the Batfish itself.

I know of the website you speak of.  I don’t consider it a “bitch session” as you say, but as one persons view of the deteriorating conditions at the park.  You say some are “non-issues” but I disagree.  Unless you’ve been there and lived it...you can’t adequately assess the situation.  The person was not having a “bad day” but objectively documented the conditions...and in fact, if you had of read the text, he waited a while and went back again just to make sure he was not over-reacting.  Photos don’t lie.  And ignoring the situation is not a solution.

I’ve heard from my sources that the people involved were banned “for life” from the park.  I also heard that management also tried to ban me but didn’t have evidence that I was involved.  For the record, I was aware of what was going on but I was upfront that I wanted no part of any politics at the park.  I’ve lived through that once when one board chairman (I’m not naming names but he was there before Rick took over) tried to kill the volunteer programs (sound familiar Darrin?), stating there were too many chiefs.  He was a dictator type, had his own Batfish website and as Fred has stated, appeared jealous of the volunteers because we were aggressive in our attempts to restore.  We tried to work within the guidelines of the park but we were seen as a threat.  Fortunately not all the volunteers left and I was able to rebuild it for a while.  Again, I currently feel I’m seen as a threat and refuse to go back down until mgmt changes and the board cycles out.

The reason for the “bitch session” website was due to apathy from the board, foundation and park mgmt.  Were they right in doing so?  I’m not sure what to say.  There were ideas floated around that would cost the park minimum dollars to give the building a facelift with all labor provided for free.  One person had access to all types of heavy equipment and had many contacts.  But the chain of command prevented anything from moving forward.  My perspective is that the people on the board use their position for resume building.  Granted there have been some that genuinely care about the place, but I can’t remember any coming out on our work days.  The foundation has a lot of money but for some reason (politics) it can’t be used until a specific person on the foundation dies because he got his feelings hurt.  All I know is that the appearance is that no one (board or foundation or mgmt) wants to work with anyone group and/or prevents the process from moving forward.

One of the BHLA members interviewed for the job that Rick’s leaving.  Since this person is friends with the people behind the “bitch session” website, I can only guess he was black balled because it’s been reported to me that the person hired is a PhD type with no experience, whereas the BHLA individual was more than qualified.  Makes me wonder if the PhD knew someone or if there is more politics involved.  At any rate, its sickens me to see what the place has become (politics wise) because the park has (or had) great potential...they had an active volunteer groups, an active living history group, and I assume the HAMs still operate there but I’ve been away for over a year and only get stuff from second hand sources and Facebook posts.

As Jim mentioned, I did step down from being the volunteer coordinator after 15 years.  I wanted to help Rick out but no other group would help me help him.  I wanted to condense all work into a report that he could give to the board.  I honestly had no idea what was going on with other groups than our “Relief Crew” that I oversaw.  The breaking point came when, after we finished phase 1 of the deck, another group notified me that they were conducting their own work day and that I could “take a rest”.  At that point I saw no reason to continue the charade.

The biggest issue I had (and still have) is that the USS Oklahoma mast is still out in the elements.  Yes, after several months there is a “covering” over it but ultimately the sun, wind, rain, snow, ice, etc... are going to destroy it.  There is no plan to save it...well there may be a plan but no one knows what it is.  The Navy was reluctant to give it to the museum but relented.  If you saw the photos on the “bitch session” website, you can see the deterioration.  

I’ve done a hell of a lot for the park.  I do the website free of charge.  I wrote the tour book and the park pamphlet.  I wrote a book about the sub specifically for the park.  Yes they paid me for the books but I only charged my actual cost which in effect donated my royalities to the park.  I organized work days and designed volunteer shirts that everyone wore on our days.  I was there in the summer heat and winter cold.  I did it for the Batfish and her subvets.  However, somedays I didn’t feel the love in return.  I’ve heard about snide remarks from one subvet (not our beloved Batfish vets) who, during the summer, was in the air conditioned park building griping about how long it was taking us.  He didn’t realize my wife was running the cash register.  I’ve heard other volunteers say things like “Well, if you had done it correctly in the first place...”.  I wanted to say “where the hell were you 3 years ago?”  He’s lucky I didn’t throw him over the side.  And then there are the volunteers who only show up when the paper or TV crew show up and then pretend their the “saviors of the submarine”.  And lets not forget the Tulsa car dealer who promised to help raise $100,000...which only turned out to be a publicity stunt as not one dime rolled in.

Most of it I can let roll off my back and I learned over time who to believe and who not to.  I did my time because I loved the sub (still do).  I felt is was my own submarine and was jealous to protect her.  I learned to let the politics go because if I waited it out, dictator types always left.  However, after all I’ve put into the sub, and then have an attempt to ban me without at least talking to me...well screw that.  If I decide to go back down again, I’ll just wait it out again.  But there are always other places to volunteer and maybe it’s time I gave up on the Batfish and found a new place to devote my time and energy.

Well, for those of you who have made it this far...I thank you for your patience.  If you want to attack me...go ahead, my skin is pretty thick.  I’m not mad at anyone. Disappointed yes...mad, no.  I’ve made a lot of friends over the years and have kept up with most of them.  Some people don’t like me or the way I do things.  That’s fine too.  We can agree or disagree...and we can be civil in the way we approach things.  I’ve said what I’ve been holding back now for a long time.  You now have permission to lob hand grenades at me...I can take it...but I also can give it just as well as I get it.  Peace.

Mark Allen

« Last Edit: July 05, 2014, 10:45:08 PM by MWALLEN » Logged

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Jim
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« Reply #2 on: July 05, 2014, 10:09:43 PM »

For all who read this: see for yourselves.  This is the website in question  www.savetheussbatfish.com
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Darrin
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« Reply #3 on: July 06, 2014, 06:42:25 PM »

All,

This one is a tough one for me because I have been able to be both a part of a great museum and a non-paid member of the staff (Ft Eustis Transportation Museum) and a volunteer both with boots on the ground and doing research for others around the country.

Being apart of a fantastic volunteer association that had poured their hearts and souls and monies into a museum only to have them told that they were no longer wanted and then be lied to directly to our faces regarding why they cannot go back onboard for minor paperwork issues that were done years and years ago hurt like hell.  The management staff is now realizing the hard way how much the volunteers have done and how much they have lost and yes we also had a person take up the fight for the Torsk and post a letter that started a lot of things rolling around the country and now the management staff is having to tell lies and back peddle and tap dance around the subject similiar to what is going on with the Batfish crew right now.

The letter in question brought a lot of people together from around the country to support the volunteer crew and made the management rethink their stance regarding the volunteers. It also brought in one of Baltimores local newspapers to question what is going on and the museum lied through their teeth regarding the situation and the crewmembers they talked to told the truth and it turns out that the letter that the museum sent to the newspaper was their cover story that they also sent out to those whom asked what had happened.

Am I upset with the person whom started the savethebatfish website? NOPE will I throw handgrenades at Mark and his volunteers? HELL NO they tried to work their butts off and make their museum a better place, I can only say thank you to them and keep the faith because all good things come to those whom wait.

Over the years I have seen museums flourish with volunteer help and a great museum staff and sadly I have seen museums with great volunteer orgainizations throw it all away for stupid reasons and then suffer and finally have to pay monies to others to finish a project that could have easily been done by the volunteer group (hence the Torsk deck being completed) for free other than the wood and paint which was all donated to TVA and BMM.

Before Paul Farace can say it, yes everything is done in time and with the money to do it and yes everything costs money to restore Macro artifacts and displays. There is an old addage that I am reminded of and that is "to make money you have to spend money" with that being said with the economy being what it is they may see the volunteer groups as a threat to their check book and not as an asset as their budget gets cut as the tourista's no longer want to come to a museum that has fallen on hard times.

Keep the faith Mark, maybe just maybe the new guy will have some sense about him and ask you all to come back, especially if you have a powerpoint slide show put together showing what all you and your volunteers and re-enactors have done to enhance the tourista's experiance onboard the Batfish and in the museum as a whole.

V/R,

Darrin
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Darrin
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« Reply #4 on: July 07, 2014, 03:33:13 AM »

Here is a link to a museum volunteer group whom has rebuilt a rusted worn out hull of a WWII DE that should have been sent to the bottom as a reef or cut up, with great leadership and a great set of volunteers they have overcome a fire, ice in the water with a thin hull and then scavanged parts from around the world to restore her once more to her former glory  www.ussslater.org

There are a number of WWII ships that have gone to the brink of being scrapped only to be saved by the hard work of those whom are willing to do the work or open up their checkbooks because they can no longer do the work, the ones that come to mind other than the ones whom post on here are the USS Slater DE766 (which just got out of the shipyard after a 1.3Mil rebuild) and the USS LST325 which also came back from Greece a number of years ago and is now a world class ship that sails numerous times a year on her own power.


For the Batfish crew keep your chin up because in the last 15 years there have been a number of submarines over the years that have overcome huge issues and should have been shut down and scrapped however people got behind them and saved them... Requin, Cavalla, Drum, Torsk and others as the volunteer crews and others have rallied to save them.. The Ling also needs to be added to that list because she was closed for nearly a year after a large storm and management that tried to shut her down for good.. She is now open for the first time in a year with tourista's onboard now since May of this year and making some money.

While I am jealous of Paul and the Cod,  very few of us can do what has taken him 30 years to do little by little and BTW he worked his way up from the bottom of the rung of a ladder that he had to have a step stool even to reach before he was allowed to be considered a part of the museum to being the Director of a great submarine museum that I believe is the pride of the submarine museum force for many different reasons.

Speaking of that Paul when is Cod due for a shipyard visit because it has been how many decades since she was in one? I do know that you put divers in the water to check her hull and you have volunteers now working on outside projects trying to support the city of Cleveland, I am gratefull to call you my friend and one day I may walk on her decks and then climb through her escape trunks just to get below once more.

Respectfully,

Darrin

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Gil Bohannon
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« Reply #5 on: July 08, 2014, 09:25:47 AM »

Mark,

I want to say thank you for the many years you have put in a Batfish. I understand where you are and feel your struggles and frustrations. After 17 years at Torsk, we are facing our own set of issues and only time will tell what will come of it. In the end, what suffers the most is the boat herself. 

Again, thank you for all you have done!

Gil
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MWALLEN
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« Reply #6 on: July 09, 2014, 08:27:31 AM »

Gil, Darrin, and those who've PM'd me...thanks for your support.

It wasn't an easy thing to write.  I fretted about it for 4 months.  But things are/were being said that required a different viewpoint.  Along the road of life I've learned there are always two sides to a story and usually the vocal ones are the ones to take with a grain of salt.  There will always be those that circle the wagons and protect their own.  But if they won't study an issue from all sides, then I feel sorry for them because they will only get 1/2 the story.

Ultimately, it came down to a personal attack on me, done behind my back, w/o consulting me.  If I screw up,  I'll be the first to admit it and offer solutions for a resolution.  However, if I'm not in the wrong but am labeled "guilty" until proven "innocent", then I have a real problem with that.

Not sure where my road lies with the Batfish.  Color me "in limbo" until things settle down.  Maybe the new guy will contact me...maybe not.  Maybe he's being fed preconceived ideas...maybe not.  I don't know him and I'll withhold judgment.  As of now, I'm leaving the website "as is"...but I'll have no problem stripping park pages/info out of it and make it just about the sub and subvets...after all, that's why I started it.

Mark Allen
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emeacho
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« Reply #7 on: July 09, 2014, 12:38:52 PM »

Wow, this sounds all too familiar.  Much of the story of the TVA and Torsk has been told already, but the long and the short of it is nearly the same as the situation at Batfish.  For nearly 17 years all maintenance aboard Torsk was done by volunteers of the TVA.    The folks who "manage" the boat have never had a restoration plan other than the one TVA put together.  They provide the lip service about how much our efforts are appreciated, but still said "we no longer want to deal with TVA."  Seems that we became a threat to the management also.  Are all bureaucrats the same?  tickedoff
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nomad66
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« Reply #8 on: July 09, 2014, 12:40:52 PM »

Mark,

I want to thank you and all the volunteers for all the work and time you guys have spent restoring the Batfish. My dad and I thoroughly enjoyed our time aboard back in 2008. Smiley
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Fred Tannenbaum
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« Reply #9 on: July 09, 2014, 08:47:33 PM »

Chief Eacho and others: And the same thing happened on the 236 museum boat prior to 1985 ... I used to hope it would never happen on another museum boat. I was sadly mistaken.

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Lance Dean
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« Reply #10 on: July 10, 2014, 12:13:33 PM »

Well, whoever created the website was smart enough to do a private registration.
 
Just imagine how it would look today WITHOUT people like Mark Allen and other volunteers.  Ugh.

I'd like to thank all the Batfish guys who put time and effort into doing something, anything, for the museum.  Given the state our nation today, it's only going to get worse.

I still love my Batfish t-shirts.
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